A couple of my eFriends asked about the Red Trillium pictures I’ve been posting on Flickr. I didn’t have ready answers, so I looked up a few tidbits and here they are.
There are many species of trillium – a spring wildflower in the lily family. They come in many colors – red, white, yellow, dark purple, and a sort of greenish-yellow. I found accounts for three species that are this dark burgandy red, only one that grows where I live. (There may be more red ones in other parts of the country – or the world, but this morning, in my quick research, I found just three.)
This variety, Red Trillium (Trillium erectum), also goes by the names “Stinking Benjamin” because of its unpleasant odor and “Bethroot” – reportedly a corruption of “Birth Root” because it was used as an aid in childbirth. I found two range maps.
The map on the left is from the USDA Plant database – a very nice place to get information about all kinds of plants. If you click on the map, you will go to their account of the Red Trillium. I don’t like the USDA maps so much, because if even one plant is reported anywhere in a state, the entire state gets colored green. That can be a little misleading at times. The map on the right is from a website referenced on the USDA site – a place called eFloras.org – again, click the map to go there. Their write-up isn’t as pretty as the USDA, but I like the map better.
The other deep red trillium that I found referenced are Wakerobin (Trillium vaseyi) and Southern Red Trillium (Trillium sulcatum). Click on their names here to see their very small ranges on the eFloras range maps.
So, Adam and Sue – there you have it. Thanks for asking. I learned something, too.
Keep on learning!
P.S. (5/9/07) I found another one yesterday that makes me see why another common name is “Purple Trillium”. I think the color changes as the individual flower gets older: